Seker Bayrami

Blue Mosque- September 10, 2010
The last few days in Turkey were marked by the religious holiday Seker Bayrami. It is the period of celebration that comes at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. Lots of crowds, lots of sweets. It is a family holiday, where many people travel to see family in other parts of the country. We got 2 days off of school and most coworkers left town for the long weekend. Jeremy and I decided to stay put to explore the city and also to be able to see two friends, who were visiting from San Francisco. 

Three days in a row, we took the plunge and went to Taksim- one of the busiest neighborhoods in the city. In Taksim, people were out in throngs and Istakal (its main artery) turned into a thicker, more raucous stream than usual. Masses undulated in their strolling, leaving little choice but to join in their rhythm and take in the sights. People held onto children, holding onto dribbling ice cream cones. There were vendors selling roasted corn, cashews, roasted chestnuts, lottery tickets. Pyramids of baklava beckoned from sweet shop windows, oozing and glistening with stickiness. "Indirim! -50%! -70%"  screamed signs from every clothing shop window. Every other shop seemed to be a chewy ice cream stand, where a vendor with a red hat embroidered with gold thread poked and prodded into his big ice cream canisters, while the piled up cones arched into the street, reaching so far they seemed to want to tap you on the shoulder. Although the sheer magnitude of the crowd was a sight to behold, I was eager to slip away from the torrent and into the windy side streets for a quieter dinner or a coffee.

Entrance to Istakal from Taksim Square- September 10, 2010

We also took some quieter strolls, walking along the Bosphorus from Ortakoy all the way to the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Koprusu bridge, gawking at the gigantic shipping boats and observing the aquatic dance of the tugs, ships, and ferries as they wove, plowed, and buzzed through. Along the way, we noticed that there were several spots, where someone was watching over a string of colorful balloons in the water, bright as gumdrops bobbing up and down. "A novel fishing technique?" I thought at first, "A festive strand cut loose from a child's birthday party?" After watching for a bit, we realized that it was in fact a floating shooting gallery. For a small price, any passerby could take aim and seek to pop the balloons with a BB gun.

This Bayrami has also been an opportunity to try making a few new dishes. Last night, for example, I attempted to make stuffed peppers for the first time (from The Complete Book of Turkish Cooking, by Ghillie Basan).  I was a little heavy-handed on the cinnamon, but I would make them again and am open to other recipes. Tonight, I am going to try making some chickpea patties with red onion and parsley and perhaps some aubergine stew. The skies have opened up to unleash the rain they've been threatening over the last few days, which leaves a lot of time to linger at home and experiment in the kitchen.


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